Barock Project is the exciting young Italian prog band which draws its influences from the classic 70s sound of the likes of Emerson Lake & Palmer and Genesis, and also a range of classical composers.
Their last album Skyline (see review) was a revelation for those who had not encountered them before; Vivo now brilliantly captures the essence of their live performance. In just over two hours and across two CDs, the band showcases and celebrates ten years of music- making and four albums through this high energy/ maximum impact set.
Starting with the rousing Back To You on CD1, there's a constant joy in the way they play, onto which the audience latches, especially on this first CD. Led by Luca Zabbini on piano, keyboards, acoustic guitar and vocals, the band also consists of Luca Pancaldi on lead vocals, drummer Eric Ombelli, guitarist Marco Mazzuoccolo and bassist Francesco Caliendo.
Their playing is fluid and seemingly effortless throughout, Zabbini leading the line but they always maintain their balance and shape, even through some of the more complex compositions and sketches.
There's a real mid-European laid back feel to Coffee In Neukolln while Save Your Soul has a really delicious Greek flavour.
Their virtuosity is there for all to see in Fool's Epilogue, that twists and turns musically from a classical bent through screaming guitars and draws to a close with a semi-operatic sounding passage.
Conversely, Inside My Dreamer's Eyes is indeed dreamy and floating, full of lush instrumental sections while Un Altro Mondo glides along with beautiful piano and strong vocals very much to the fore.
A very welcome inclusion is the band's mesmerising version of Genesis's classic Los Endos to end CD1.
CD2 includes the wonderful Skyline that begins as an acoustic number but ends with a much rockier edge. The other pick of the tracks is The Silence Of The Wake, which again brings in different elements, including Spanish guitars, a distorted and frenetic passage, which then gives way to a funky bass accompanying the piano.
Perhaps the only negative comment is that the response from the audience seems to run out of steam towards the end of CD2.
A bonus studio track of the previously unreleased My Silent Sea again shows their ability to produce shimmering songs, which move along with innate grace and beauty.
It was a shame that Barock Project were unable to get to the UK in 2015 as part of this tour, but Vivo certainly shows what we Brits were missing! Let's hope they can make it to these shores one day and find a decent audience over here. They are one of the best of the new wave of European prog rockers and this album will win them many new friends and admirers.
**** Alison Reijman
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